'Laughing gas' recognized as dangerous drug

Health Ministry: Gas increasingly used at parties and clubs by young people.

nitrous oxide 88 (photo credit: )
nitrous oxide 88
(photo credit: )
Nitrous oxide, the colorless, almost odorless gas used, with oxygen, for sedation in childbirth and dental surgery and known as "laughing gas," has been recognized as a "dangerous drug" by the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee following abuse by children and teenagers. The gas is also used in industry, which is how young people apparently obtain it. The committee approved regulations on Tuesday after receiving a request to do so by the Israel Police and the Health Ministry. Ministry chief pharmacist Batya Haran said that laughing gas is increasingly being used illegitimately at parties and in clubs by young people to "get high." Its use for non-medical purposes can cause brain damage and even death. The new legal definition of nitrous oxide limits its manufacture, import and marketing. Companies dealing with nitrous oxide must now prove that it is not being used for illegitimate purposes. Anyone who violates the regulations is liable to up to six months' imprisonment, a fine, loss of licenses and destruction of their supplies. Ilan Tavor, managing director of Maxima, a company that produces nitrous oxide for medical uses, said his firm was investing a lot of effort into reducing the abuse of the gas. "We are now working on a device that will allow the police to identify use of laughing gas," he said. The new regulations will be published soon in daily newspapers in various languages, said committee chairman MK Haim Katz. He demanded that the Education Ministry inform school personnel about the new regulations and educate children about the dangers.